It is no surprise that the recession has affected online consumer spending habits. In lean times, people are more apt to curb spending and seek out the best bargains. From a search perspective, it is now more important than ever for marketers to adapt their campaigns to these changes in consumer behavior to better optimize performance.
As consumers modify their spending patterns, their search behavior—the keywords and terms they use to locate products and services—also change. We recently culled over half a million search terms containing a certain modifier. For instance, queries containing the word “cheap” would include “cheap flight,” “cheap car rental” and so on. Next we aggregated the keywords into groups based on the modifier and measured their year-over-year changes in impression volume and revenue per click (i.e. the per click monetization change).
The conclusions were significant. In the financial vertical, keywords such as “credit,” “lending” and “mortgage” have seen a huge jump in impression volume, while queries containing “loans” have seen a drop. Interestingly while mortgage and credit monetize better now than last year, loans and lending related keywords are not performing as well.
In our experience, changes in traffic patterns and behavior are closely related to changes in the economic environment. An increased number of consumers are searching for financial information but are not necessarily converting on the clicks. This is because they are not qualified as they once were (due to more stringent lending criteria) or are simply looking for information and are not interested in buying a financial product.
In the travel vertical, “cheap” and “discount” related keywords have seen big jumps in impression volume and are monetizing better. The same is not true for “cruise” and “hotel” related keywords where the revenue-per-click is lower than it was last year.
At a more granular level, the “hotel” set includes several thousand combinations of hotel with location names, hotel brand names, etc. This indicates a shift in consumer thought patterns. People are less brand focused, and more value conscious. Clearly frugality is in.
In order to effectively prompt the new frugal consumer to action, you must recalibrate your search marketing approach. Here are a few strategies to consider:
- Employ thrift-related messaging to your ad copy, stressing value over brand.
- If your business operates in the travel space, consider promoting cheap and discount-related combinations instead of focusing on brand and location-related keyword combinations.
- Monitor federal announcements related to loan and credit oriented policies, as they will have a direct and immediate impact on the quantity and quality of your traffic.
Maintaining focus on ROI while seeking greater efficiencies in keyword marketplaces will provide significant opportunities to increase your market share in key categories and obtain additional, valuable traffic at discounted prices.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.